Why do Google, Yahoo, and Bing give me different results?

Search engine results can be rather misleading, especially to online marketing newbies. There is no one search engine central clearinghouse. They don’t all share results. What ranks high in one search engine may be lower on the list for another.

We were asked about search engine results several weeks ago by a potential client. He thought his company’s website was doing great because they were 4th on Bing, but couldn’t understand why he was on page 7 on Google.

So what are the major search engines for online marketers? Should you focus all your search engine optimization attention on Google, or split your efforts up equally among all the search engines you can find? And why do the Big Three — Google, Bing, and Yahoo — all give different results?

To start with, the Big Three is now the Big Two. That’s because Bing has been providing their results to Yahoo, which means there are really only two sets of results that people are finding. But Yahoo and Bing each have their own identity and own market share. More on that later.

Do a quick search on any topic, and you’ll see some markedly different results between Google and Yahoo/Bing.

Google search results for Erik Deckers

Google search results for Erik Deckers

Bing search results for Erik Deckers

Bing search results for Erik Deckers

The results from the two search engines — Google and Yahoo/Bing — shows some serious differences.

  • In the 7 results on Bing, only 4 out of the 7 are me. The other 3 are guys from Belgium and Holland. On Google, those guys don’t show up until about page 6.
  • Google shows my blog, my work blog, and my Twitter account. My results on Bing are 2 listings on LinkedIn (the same LinkedIn account, mind you), and 2 listings from an old website (the same website) I haven’t updated in nearly 4 years.
  • Google provides the most up-to-date and most accurate results, Yahoo/Bing is giving out of date information and repeating itself.
  • Google is more likely to satisfy my insatiable craving to be the center of attention; Yahoo/Bing has failed me.

So where should you focus your search engine attention?

Google. Far and away, Google.

Yes, Bing is picking up in popularity. Yes, Yahoo and Bing have teamed up to reach two separate audiences, but when you look at the total market share of the Big Three Two, that’s like Vermont and New Hampshire joining forces and saying they can beat the crap out of the Midwest.

According to a Hitwise, Google owns over 70% of the entire search market. Of course, there’s a significant change between the end of November and the end of August.


2010-11-27 70.10% 15.17% 10.10%
2010-08-28 71.59% 14.28% 9.87%

Does that mean you should forsake Yahoo/Bing now and forever? No, of course not; that’s silly. But until they become a bigger player in the search engine market, focus most of your attention on Google.

Of course, now that Bing has teamed up with Facebook, that is going to be more of a certainty, not a pipe dream. The change from August to November is fairly significant, so Internet marketers may want to keep an eye on Yahoo/Bing’s market share and adjust their search engine optimization efforts accordingly.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995.


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